I thoroughly enjoyed hearing our speakers over the course of the RCPCH Wales St David’s Day conference, which took place on 1 March in Wales. The way they engaged with the previous speakers and incorporated topics we’d already discussed into their own answers made the programme run seamlessly. As the RCPCH Wales Trainee Representative I was proud to showcase the experts we have here in Wales as well as welcoming Professor Russell Viner and Dr Max Davie from the College who provided insight on a subject that will affect the future of paediatricians in all sub-specialities.
Early attachment is so important in establishing healthy and loving bonds
As a neonatologist I am committed to a family integrated care approach for all babies, whether they are on a neonatal unit, in a postnatal ward or going home. Early attachment is so important in establishing healthy and loving bonds - but sometimes new parents are instructed to "let the baby cry" and "don’t spoil the baby". Archaic advice does not help the bonding and attachment process and in fact may be detrimental. Going forward I will advocate this integrated care approach and bring it to the forefront of my practice.
The mental health challenges that our children seem to face differ from my own experience of childhood and adolescence. Professor Viner made some particularly poignant comments about the perceived differences between my generation and the current generation. I took away two main points. Firstly, it might have been under recognised before - clocked and hidden; we are now a culture that talks more about mental health. Secondly, the pattern of life has changed: the age of moving out and settling down has changed dramatically, and the average maternal age at first child has risen from the early 20s to 31 years.
Some of these life events are considered protective forces. The lack of them can increase use of alcohol and substance misuse and thus combine to exacerbate mental health difficulties. Understanding this makes more sense of the situation and I was grateful for this.
We need to ensure that the mental health and wellbeing of children remains a priority
We must work together to improve children's mental health. We need to put resources into early intervention and prevention, building resilience and ensuring that our workforce is trained to spot the signs of mental ill health and equipped to refer and support children. As paediatricians we need to ensure that the mental health and wellbeing of children remains a priority for the future. Link to College resources
I have very much enjoyed my experience as Wales Trainee Representative. And I hope that the annual RCPCH St David’s Day Conference continues to be a success in Wales!